Homeschooling: Learning… by heart

Homeschooling is a delightful alternative that many parents are discovering. So what makes it tick?

learning-by-heartFor those unaware of the concept, homeschooling is as simple as the name suggests—schooling at home. That is all theres is to interpret—no semester exams or projects, like in schools.

Discovering the need to homeschool

The desire for parents to homeschool their children, comes from a range of reasons.

Some of them being the pressure to perform and be boxed into a group of the same age, no role model to follow, the non-personal touch of the school system and the wrong use of authority by teachers and school staff, which give children a wrong idea of authority.  Being a decision that will affect almost every aspect of your and your child’s life, during the learning years of your child, it’s one that has to be well thought over. Yet for some parents, this decision may come naturally like for Priya Desikan, who has a seven year old son, Raghav. “Our son requested flexibility in going to school, and of course with a regular school that did not work. So he said that he wanted to be home and I just went with my heart. I did not read or research much on homeschooling before we decided to pull him out of school, simply because he had already decided [and he was only 5 then]. I realised that he knew exactly what he wanted in life. So we listened to him instead. It was only after that I read Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society that we realised that we were part of an inspiring and loving community of homeschoolers in India,” says Priya.

For Mumbai based P. Aravinda, the sole inspiration to homeschool her daughter was the observant, inquisitive and eager-to-learn attitude of her child. But often parents may not see or let themselves see that the child’s innate curiosity will lead them to learn. In an earnest effort to prepare the child for school, parents modify even the home environment. However, when Aravinda’s daughter was young, though she had not thought about homeschooling, she was not thinking about schooling either, and thus kept the home environment free from eating and sleeping timetables, expectations of keeping clothes clean, need to recite and memorise shapes and colours.

She continued this way till her daughter was 5 years old, and in these years she had also been observing the neighbourhood children—most of whom had started schooling at age 3 or 4. They had spent a year before that preparing for the ‘interview’. “It was clearly difficult to imagine giving up what we had going for what the schools had to offer,” remarks Aravinda

Books such as How Children Learn by John Holt and Continuum Concept by John Liedloff, Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn, to name a few, exposed her to new ideas and also helped her discover that she was not alone in the way she interpreted what she was seeing. That emboldened her and she decided to foray into the inviting yet intimidating territory of homeschooling.

Certainly she isn’t alone going against the tide. Ann and Ashley Manning have a daughter aged 24 and a son aged 28. They were both homeschooled for about twelve years until they got certified for the Higher Secondary School Certificate [HSC] from National Institute of Open School [NIOS]. Ann and Ashley homeschooled because they believed that children are given to parents, for them to steward and bring up into mature adults, the home being their best environment and the best method of learning tutoring one-on-one.

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